November 13, 2005
Yates trial 2.0

As it appears there will be a new trial for Andrea Yates instead of a plea bargain (for which the Chron editorialized today), this story covers the topics to keep in mind as things proceed.

Harris County prosecutor Alan Curry already has said the state will seek a new trial for Yates.

However, the criminal appeals court's decision last week means she cannot be retried on the same two capital murder charges because the jury did not recommend the death penalty.

Yates was not tried for all five of her childrens' murders, so if Harris County DA Chuck Rosenthal wants to go for the death penalty, they'll have to go with different charges.

Parnham said that a "non-death penalty" jury would be more likely to acquit Yates.

As Jeralyn has noted, there is empirical evidence to back up that assertion. More background on that can be found here.

"Quite frankly, how many respected psychiatrists are going to be taking the witness stand and testifying that this woman was not legally insane on June 20, 2001?" Parnham said. "I can't think of one. ... There is the one that testified (during the first trial), but, of course, we know that in at least one respect he didn't tell the truth."

Parnham was referring to the prosecution's star witness, Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist and consultant for the Law & Order television series. During his testimony, Dietz said that shortly before drowning her children, Yates had watched an episode of that show about a woman who drowned her children, claimed insanity and was found not guilty.

No such episode of the TV show ever existed.

Jurors in the first trial were informed about Dietz's false testimony before sentencing Yates, but the 1st Court of Appeals said the judge erred in not granting Yates a new trial.

The 1st Court of Appeals wrote: "Dr. Dietz was the only mental health expert who testified that appellant knew right from wrong. Therefore, his testimony was critical to establish the State's case. Although the record does not show that Dr. Dietz intentionally lied in his testimony, his false testimony undoubtedly gave greater weight to his opinion."


Parnham predicted that Dietz will testify in Yates' new trial.

Dietz was the only expert witness to testify that Yates was legally sane at the time of the killings. I have to wonder if they'd be able to find another such expert. You'd think it'd be worth it to them, since the defense ought to be able to do a good job discrediting him. We'll see, I guess.

As I said before, the defense has one major advantage it didn't have last time, and that's two subsequent cases to learn from, each of which featured attorneys who based their cases in part on what they gleaned from the first Yates trial. I'm not a betting man, but I'd say that the odds are more favorable to Yates and Parnham this time around.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 13, 2005 to Crime and Punishment | TrackBack

If Yates gets anything less than what she got before, we will decimate the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in the election next year.

This is the same bunch who gave the escaped double murderer a new trial as well.

BTW, who is financing her legal effort, via Parham and Odom?

Posted by: ttyler5 on November 13, 2005 9:18 PM

I pray that Andrea gets sent to a mental hospital and avoids a new trial! I feel for her! That would be torture for all her family including her! She deservs the same treatment that anyboy that insane at the time derves! Plane and simple! That is my oppinion and she shouldn't been prosecuted the first time! The justice system trated her awfull. They let park deitz usr her competncy hearing,which is aginst the law! They also didn't let her family in the courtroom untill the closing argument ant the penalty phase! Weel they let them in during the opening statments! They made her 73 year old mother and her husband stand in line to get in- they never did! They done that so the jury wouldn't know her family supported her all the way! They pinned up the clothes her chidren were wearing! How many trials with sane people do you see that! Did they put up the clothes that laci peterson was wearing? NO! The mentally ill don't get the same right! I think the judge and odem and williford shoud be dibarred! Get them out! and i beleive that park deitz need to be in prison! They punished mark furman-but o.j. wasn't mentaly ill! see what i mean! That is my opinnion and i hope the jury finds andrea not guilty and the ones that prosecut her and the judge rots in you know where! Jeanne Barry

Posted by: Jeanne Barry on November 14, 2005 10:27 AM